Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Mom & Sister: Two 'Sisters on the Fly'

My little sister Karla
Morning Breakfast with my Mom
I'm not the only one in my family with a yen to travel. My mom and sister have become "Sisters on the Fly," members of America's largest outdoor women's group. 
All decked out for a weekend
of "Sisters on the Fly."
"Sisters on the Fly" offers empowerment and sisterhood through exceptional outdoor adventures. The Sisters like to say that "as a group of women, we challenge ourselves in all that we set our mind to. There is no age, color, religion or political group. All women who want to share in the adventures of "sisterhood" are welcome."
My Mom and sister's
"Rick Rack Shack"
 In a rick-rack
holiday mood!
 Camper transportation:
the prettiest little bicycle
 Holiday spirit!
 This is the first time
I've seen a pink chandelier
for an outdoor camper,
I'll admit
 These photos are from
 a recent holiday open house,
not an actual "Sisters on the Fly" event
Setting a beautiful table
for an outdoor adventure
is a tradition in our family.

My mom once came back
to her campsite in Aspen
and the neighboring campers
left her a note
to say how fascinated they were
to watch her set
a beautiful table
just for herself
on the picnic table.
 They loved her example.
Sisters meeting in 'Sisters on the Fly' get together, often via camper caravans, find a great outdoor spot to meet, and enjoy a weekend of laughter and good times. The campers that women have purchased to do this are often adorable vintage trailers that the ladies have customized and made uniquely their own.

Here are some of their adventures: fly-fishing camp, horseback riding, and sightseeing and exploring beautiful natural parks.  

 SOTF says, "We encourage you to join us on one of our adventures and let yourself be spoiled rotten, learn to fish, to be a real Western Cowgirl, run rivers, and enjoy pure highway traveling fun. The best part is meeting all those new sisters you didn't even know you had.
 just "Remember the rules:
No men, no pets, no kids 
...and be nice."
In 2015, Sisters on the Fly is going to caravan the entire Route 66! Won't that be a sight with all those vintage trailers rolling down America's vintage highway?

Men are banned from events, although my Mom says many women often have their husbands help them get their camper set up for the weekend and then bid hubby adieu.

All kinds of women participate from hard-charging career women to single moms just eeking by. It's a range of ladies who kick back to appreciate the great outdoors and enjoy fun fellowship.
"We were going to
change the world today
but then something sparkly
caught our eye."

Would you like to learn more about Sisters on the Fly?
Check out their website here.

You might enjoy
some other fun posts
from Colorado
in the American West:

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

"The People Who Go"

A sample quote
from the public literature project
"Those Who Go"
My Danish friend Michael, who took me on my very first outing as an expat in the Czech Republic, introduced me to all of his fellow expat friends by saying "you know how there are people who stay and there are people who go? These are the people who go."

I was delighted to learn there is a wonderful contemplative public literature project with nearly the exact same name currently showing in the beautifully designed Denver International Airport. It is entitled simply "Those Who Go."

The artist honors "those who go" by assembling great quotes on travelers and traveling to inspire them as they move through the airport. Even better, an entire library of books devoted to traveling are available free through the project website and free airport wifi for downloading.

The creator of the exhibit says:

"As far as I know, there are four ways to travel:
  • in Space

  • in Time

  • in the Mind

  • and in one's own Self.
This small collection of books includes great travels and travelers from all four dimensions a human being can go. They are meant for you to share and explore. You can download them directly from the link at the airport or from this site, and may they inspire and delight you wherever you are."

What a creative way to share great books and to create a reading culture around and in celebration of one of humanity's greatest activities. What a wonderful reminder that being a 'person who stays' doesn't mean you can't be a person who in the mind...or in one's own self. Which free book will you download?

Special thanks to friend Suzanne LaRue who told me about the exhibit.

You might enjoy some of my other posts on travel books and media:

Hello, Great Big Beautiful World!
(the very first post I wrote - it shows the power of a book to make one travel!)


Armchair Traveling with Tony

Armchair Traveling with Rick

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I rise to break the chain as a part of Eve Ensler's #1billionrising!

Today is the big day!

Eve Ensler, the creator of the Vagina Monologues (which has raised $80 million for domestic violence charities globally) has organized what I believe to be the largest coordinated event in the history of the world. One billion women, and the men who love them, will be rising to change the worldwide paradigm about the acceptability of violence against women.

Here’s an example of how violence against women is often not taken seriously. When I was a branch manager of a public library branch in Colorado Springs, we were located in an upscale, gorgeous neighborhood full of expensive homes nestled under the mountains. It's the Rockrimmon neighborhood.  It was not the kind of place where you would expect violent daylight attacks against women. 

 That’s exactly what happened though. The lady in the dry cleaning business next door to our library branch was brutally raped, and had her skull bashed in. It was 3 in the afternoon, with grocery store shoppers and library users using the parking lot without a realization of what had happened. I had the responsibility for the 15-20 person female staff that day and believe me, I felt it!

A couple days later a man was arrested. What would have proved or disproved his guilt was a DNA rape kit. Colorado had passed laws by then requiring them, but the processing of them was not funded to keep up with the need and there was a six-month backlog of rape kits to be processed.

I never found out if that man was actually guilty or if he had been arrested to “calm the population down.” If he wasn’t the guilty party, how unfair it must have felt to him as he waited. How sad for the neighborhood too, if the real perpetrator was still on the loose.

It’s my guess that if you check, most American states also has a huge backlog of rape kits to be processed.  My friends in Colorado tell me nothing has changed - the backlog remains. This lackadaisical attitude about stopping violence against women must change. It's not just in that one place, it is global.
Here are a few things you can do to participate in this worldwide revolution:
1) Attend a rising. There will be flash mobs happening all over the world. There is a choreography video on the #1billionrising site. If you don't have time to learn the dance, your presence is enough. You can sway. Here's where to find an event. Global events will be livestreamed all day.
2) Share with your friends in person and on social media what #1billionrising is all about. Make sure your friends know that there are 100 million missing women from the planet. Of those that remain, 1 in 3 is touched by violence or violation, which adds up to 1 billion people around the world. Find a video on the #1billionrising website that is personally meaningful to you to share. Imagine for a moment, how the world would be different, if those women weren't violated and left dealing with shame and humiliation.
3) Make your FB cover photo reflect #1billionrising for the month of February. There are plenty of banner cover shots on the site. Help #1billionrising become a global trending topic on Twitter.
4) If you live in America, make sure you understand why the House of Representatives is voting against the Violence Against Women Act. It is not a budget buster, indeed, it is at a funding level 17% less than the last time it was renewed. Here is one video and another video that help explain why Republicans are against renewing it. Are those reasons not appalling? How is your Representative voting?
5) Feel the joy of your actions. You are personally making a difference for future generations to follow. Here's a video from San Francisco of a rising to help you feel your joy. Your actions don't end here. The work of the 21st century will be to achieve equality for women and girls. We will have more work in the future. Thanks for caring!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Voting in the American Election as an Overseas Voter

This week, I cast my ballot in the American election. I was proud to have not blown it off but to have figured out how to do it. Figuring it out could be overwhelming, but it really helped to just call the Board of Elections where I last voted and ask them how to do it. There is a military and overseas voter specialist in both the city and county election office. I found it reassuring that two specific people actually had their name attached to making my vote count, and it wasn't a shared responsibility with an entire office, possibly becoming no one's responsibility.

They told me to go online, using my Colorado driver's license, and activate my registration for this election which I did. On September 22nd, all military and overseas voters were emailed instructions on how to download and return an email ballot.

It wasn't as simple as downloading an attachment, clicking on the right box, and then emailing it back. If it was going to be emailed back, it had to be printed, signed, scanned, and sent back. I printed it and then faxed it back. I figured there was less chance for someone to change my ballot if I sent it to the office then if I sent it through email. Fax seems less secure than electronic communication, but in this instance it made me feel more secure. I am basing that on well, no knowledge whatsoever! I called the office and confirmed that it had been received though and I had done everything correctly so my vote would count.

Overseas voters give up their right to a secret ballot. I was okay with that. Again, I am basing that on, knowledge to the contrary that it could be a bad thing.

Thinking about how to make my vote count gave me a feeling of vulnerability. After all, there are people running for office who are okay with my children not getting equal pay for equal work, who want to criminalize private family planning decisions, who approach decisions of war and peace with a buccaneer's attitude. It matters deeply to me that my vote count. I also felt that I couldn't complain, if I hadn't done my part by voting.

I am a much, much more globally-aware voter than I was four years ago. I've grown a lot in perspective since I moved abroad the day after Obama was elected in 2008. While I've always followed foreign affairs, now living overseas, I have a view from the other side informed by living in a completely international community talking with people from all over the world everyday. I understand that it is not just about America and what's best for us (although I appreciate that many Americans find that view hard to give up and don't see why we should).

I see how important our leadership is in so many venues and that it has to be informed by voices from the entire planet. It isn't just about us, because the complexity of the world has grown, and so many decisions are about all of us.

America has unique advantages: size, wealth, a shared tongue, and a stable, old, democracy renewed with ideas from the world's finest research universities. Nations can try and band together to replicate our size, but as the EU has shown, it is harder than it looks. It's interesting to me that one party still calls for sending issues back to the States, rather than solve them at a federal level, when our problems have gone from local to national to now global. To send issues back to smaller units of governance would disadvantage the people's representatives when trying to regulate behemoth global corporations. But maybe that's the point of their philosophy.

I hope leaders like Obama and George H.W. Bush, who are so good at creating a consensus among multiple poles of power all around the world, are our future. The people are currently deciding in this election whether or not to go through life on their own or to instead decide we're all in this together. I hope we choose to see that not only are we are all in this together - it's not just as a nation, but as a planet.

Thanks to all the people who made my ability to vote possible in 2012: American veterans, female sufferagettes, the Founding Fathers, public servants in election offices - see - we're all in this together.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Expat Envy on the 4th of July

On the 4th of July, it is hard to replicate the wonderful experience of celebrating America's independence the way it is done back home.  You can get together with fellow expats, you can try and make the right food, you can pull up some You Tube videos of "A Capitol 4th" from the nation's lawn in Washington D. C. but it's not the same.  Sometimes to really experience something, you just have to be there.

Today, I saw some smoked ribs, baked beans, and cole slaw my friend Scott made for his family, and I was filled with such longing for American food, I had 'expat envy.'

So here's a toast to my friends participating in boat parades on Ten Mile Lake in Minnesota, or marching in the 4th of July parade in Illinois, or watching the fireworks over the lake in Madison, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois, or Lake Okoboji, Iowa.  Enjoy your 4th, enjoy your wonderful plate of food, enjoy the view from Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs of purple mountain majesty or of gathered elk in Estes Park, Colorado and pinch yourself at being able to experience such a glorious day. Sometimes we don't appreciate the extra-ordinariness of our everyday existence until we can't experience it like we usually do.

To anyone reading this who has served, is currently serving, or keeping the home fires burning for someone serving our country, thank you so much for your gift of service to the nation.  I appreciate it. I have enjoyed the years of freedom I have experienced that you have made possible.  I don't take it for granted for even one moment.

Similar posts:
My Wish for You: Freedom

My Favorite Freedom

Monday, November 3, 2008

There are no atheists in a Rocky Mountain hot tub

Recently, my sister and I were petsitting at a friend's house when my sis told me about an incident that happened to the lady of the house when she was sound asleep. The lady woke up with a start -- there was a giant crashing noise in the kitchen. When my sister's friend went into the kitchen to investigate, she found a bear with his paw deep into her bread machine pursuing that fantastic fragrance that apparently could even be smelled outside. The bear went out the same way he came in (through the kitchen window) as soon as he saw the jig was up.

Later that night, after my sis had shared that story, we went out to enjoy our friend's hot tub. The stars were drop-dead gorgeous, so gorgeous that the next night when I used the hot tub I didn't turn on any of the patio lights so I could see all of the constellations better.

All of a sudden, in the dark, an adolescent bear pads up to the edge of the hot tub, not five feet from me, and sniffs the air with curiousity. We made eye contact! You're not supposed to do that with bears! I tried to shrink as best as I could into the water. He then turned around and padded up to the window where my mom and sister were watching TV, and then came back to a higher patio ledge overlooking the hot tub. Now he could get a running start to jump on me! Fairy tales provided my imagination all of the start-up it needed. "It's all the better to eat me with!"

What was I supposed to do??? I thought of getting under the cover but could picture the headline "visitor drowns in hot tub - no one knows why." I could try and run but I knew he could outrun me. I could go under water but I'd probably have to come up for air right where his big giant teeth would be waiting for me. All I could think of was that scene in the movie "The Parent Trap" where the two twins try to submarine their future stepmother by teaching her to hit two sticks together to keep the animals away. But I didn't have any sticks!

Eventually he wandered off and I rushed into the house back to civilization. I'd had enough more than enough wildlife for one night.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treat!

In Estes Park, it would be dangerous to have house-to-house trick-or-treating in the neighborhoods because of the wildlife. People take in their hummingbird and bird feeders at night to avoid tempting bears. Can you imagine how yummy a little kid would look to a mountain lion or coyote? So instead the entire town heads downtown for trick-or-treating from store-to-store.

I was utterly charmed by what a multi-generational, family event this was! Estes Park has a very large retired population and the retired people had some of the best costumes. I thought this guy was the most creative. He was a U.S. Department of Treasury Bailout Specialist. He gave me a billion dollars and said he only had to give out 699 more.

You couldn't have Halloween in 2008 without McCain and Palin!

Mars Attack! One of the most awesome movies of all time!

I followed these two for half a block
and could not figure out what there were.

Ketchup and Mustard!

Of course!

Elk Bugling Season

You know how there are those lists like "1,000 places you should see before you die?" I once saw a list entitled "1,000 events you should see before you die." Elk bugling season is one of those events - it is that magnificent.

Every fall, right as the aspens are at their peak, the elk of Estes Park start to mate. It's called bugling season because the big male elks "bugle" to warn other males away from their harem. To me, a bugling male going full out sounds very much like a humpback whale.

Hundreds of people come to see the elk, especially the big bulls, when they are in rut. Sometimes it just doesn't feel "right" to watch these animals during this season - like we as humans are invading paparazzi! It can make you blush.

From Wikipedia:
Adult elk usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. During the mating period known as the rut, mature bulls compete for the attentions of the cows and will try to defend females in their harem. Rival bulls challenge opponents by bellowing and by paralleling each other, walking back and forth. This allows potential combatants to assess the others antlers, body size and fighting prowess. If neither bull backs down, they engage in antler wrestling, and bulls sometimes sustain serious injuries. Bulls also dig holes in the ground, in which they urinate and roll their body. The urine soaks into their hair and gives them a distinct smell which attracts cows.

Dominant bulls follow groups of cows during the rut, from August into early winter. A bull will defend his harem of 20 cows or more from competing bulls and predators. Only mature bulls have large harems and breeding success peaks at about eight years of age. Bulls between two to four years and over 11 years of age rarely have harems, and spend most of the rut on the periphery of larger harems. Young and old bulls that do acquire a harem hold it later in the breeding season than do bulls in their prime. A bull with a harem rarely feeds and he may lose up to 20 percent of his body weight. Bulls that enter the rut in poor condition are less likely to make it through to the peak conception period or have the strength to survive the rigors of the oncoming winter.

Bulls have a loud vocalization consisting of screams known as bugling, which can be heard for miles. Bugling is often associated with an adaptation to open environments such as parklands, meadows, and savannas, where sound can travel great distances. Females are attracted to the males that bugle more often and have the loudest call. Bugling is most common early and late in the day and is one of the most distinctive sounds in nature, akin to the howl of the gray wolf.
The elk are not in danger or extinction and are thriving in Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area. There are probably around 3,000 in the Estes Park area alone. I've been stopped at a traffic light and watched two bulls fighting right outside my car window. The sound of antler on antler can be heard for blocks, just like their bugles.
It's easy to see how the alpha bull loses 20% of his body weight during the rut. He is constantly moving, preventing females from wandering off, plus he's scoping out the competition.

While the bulls are bugling, the babies are braying for their mommas to feed them.

Europeans love to come to America and see the national parks in Utah, like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I recommend adding Rocky Mountain National Park to the itinerary if you want to see the North American wild at it's finest.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

An Afternoon of Wandering in Downtown Estes Park

Estes Park is a resort town and the gateway to
Rocky Mountain National Park.
What does every resort town in America have?
Great fudge shops! This window has caramel apples for fall.

And 27 T-shirts shops, all of which stay in business.

The hip thing to do in Colorado
is drive a Jeep and own a really big dog.

Typical Colorado architecture
Estes Park has 6,006 residents

A fun, tacky souvenir shop
that's been on this corner
longer than I've been alive -
if you're eight, you might want to go in
and get yourself a tomahawk.

If you're older, you might be interested in turquoise jewelry.

Align CenterThe Big Thompson River runs throughout downtown Estes.

This beautiful child was
enjoying the river with her grandparents.

Nothing roused this big elk,
not even a nearby skateboarder.
Notice that he's lost half his rack in a fight.

Elk are everywhere in Estes Park.
Even downtown!

If Macinac Island calls their tourists
"fudgies" for their love of candy shops,

Estes Park calls their tourists "elkaholics."

Friday, October 31, 2008

The beginning of wisdom

is when you haven't seen your Mom for a couple months and right away she feeds you a beautiful lunch on her porch accompanied by the sunshine and mountains and you don't take it for granted.

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